LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Businesses in Los Angeles now have the authority to refuse service to customers who do not wear masks or face coverings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Los Angeles City Council voted to approve the ordinance, which was proposed in response to “major setbacks” in July, according to Councilman Herb Wesson, the proposal’s author. Since then, Los Angeles County has surpassed 7,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
“Small business owners and their employees are risking their lives to stay afloat in the midst of this economic and public health crisis,” Wesson said. “Wearing a mask saves lives, and this simple, common-sense law will save lives and allow us to beat this virus sooner rather than later.”
The ordinance was adopted under an urgency clause, meaning it will be in effect immediately, pending Mayor Eric Garcetti’s approval, and would end
after the city’s Safer at Home orders are lifted.
According to the ordinance, a face covering or mask can be made from a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk or linen. They may also be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items like scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been viral videos of people refusing to wear face-coverings at businesses.
At Hugo Taco’s in Valley Village, co-owner Bill Kohne said his employees have had suffered abuse from customers who don’t want to follow federal and local health guidelines.
“People, when they’re hangry, they threaten all kinds of things. They swing their arms around. They throw things on the ground,” said Kohne. “I welcome this news.”
Others shared different views on City Hall’s decision.
“These are private businesses so it’s within their rights and freedom to turn away people who don’t wear masks,” said consumer Cantney Gessner.
Ricardo Lopez had another opinion on the news saying, “Being that it’s lingering on, I don’t see it as being fair because it’s just a control issue.”
Meanwhile, consumer Ricardo Lopez said, “Yeah, I’m tired of it but as long as there’s a pandemic, I don’t think we really have a choice.”
Kohne said the abuse has been so bad, some of his workers are afraid of walking to their cars after their shifts.
He closed both of his locations for several weeks because customers politicized the issue to the point he had to bring in security for a while.
“During the summer we were getting 5 confrontations an hour. Now, we’re probably having 3 or 4 confrontations a day,” Kohne said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)